Job Family: Naval and Maritime Operations Quartermasters and Boat Operators
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Marine Corps  | Coast Guard  | National Guard

Supplemental Information
Profile  | 
Photo 1: Quartermaster sets ship's course. Photo 2:
Quartermaster plots ship's course.

William Armstrong
Occupation: Quartermaster and Boat Operator

I am a surfman instructor at the National Motor Lifeboat school at Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington. The area gets its nick…

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Short Description
The military operates many small boats for amphibious troop landings, harbor patrols, and transportation over short distances. Quartermasters and boat operators navigate and pilot many types of small watercraft, including tugboats, gunboats, and barges.


What They Do
Quartermasters and boat operators in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Direct the course and speed of boats
  • Consult maps, charts, weather reports, and navigation equipment
  • Pilot tugboats when towing and docking barges and large ships
  • Operate amphibious craft during troop landings
  • Maintain boats and deck equipment
  • Operate ship-to-shore radios
  • Keep ship logs
  • Operate and service aircraft crash, firefighting, and rescue equipment
  • Operate, maintain, and repair aviation fueling, defueling, lubricating oil, and inert gas systems
  • Oversee safety and conduct of boat team

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include mathematics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Ability to follow detailed instructions and read maps
  • Ability to work with mathematical formulas
  • Interest in sailing and navigation

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction including practice in boat operations. Course content typically includes:
  • Boat handling procedures
  • Log and message-handling procedures
  • Use of compasses, radar, charts, and other navigational aids
  • Navigational mathematics

Work Environment
Quartermasters and boat operators work aboard all types of boats and in all types of weather conditions. When not piloting boats, they may work on or below deck repairing boats and equipment or overseeing cargo storage. When ashore, they may work in offices that make nautical maps or in harbor management offices. Some boats are operated in combat situations.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian quartermasters and boat operators may work for shipping and cruise lines, piloting tugboats, ferries, and other small vessels. Depending upon specialty, they may also be called tugboat captains, motorboat operators, navigators, or pilots.

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